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The two Caliphates are not in conflict, they actually complement one another. While there have been some harsh words exchanged between the GCC and the Muslim Brotherhood over the group’s growing conflict with the UAE, amid accusations that the Brotherhood is plotting to begin a takeover of GCC countries as early as next year, the rise of the Brotherhood only helps push wavering Sunni states into the Saudi camp.
Middle Eastern countries that don’t want to risk being taken apart by the tripartite alliance of Islamists, liberals and Western democracy advocates need someone to protect them. If that same alliance succeeds in bringing down Syria, with GCC backing and military intervention from Western nations, that will conclusively demonstrate to the region that Iran is incapable of protecting its allies, the way that Saudi Arabia was able to protect Bahrain, not to mention Sudan, despite an international consensus that Sudan is a genocidal state.
While the affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood try to tie together a disparate collection of countries, the GCC will proceed from a more stable base, taking in Yemen and contending with Iran over Bahrain and then Iraq. The GCC will avoid overextending itself beyond countries where it already has a presence, but those countries harnessed together wield enough power and influence to fundamentally change the region.
The Saudi Caliphate has two advantages, money and monarchy. The oil wealth of the kingdoms means that they can stave off most domestic unrest with more bread and circuses, while directing the anger of their people outward in the Jihad against the West. With no elections of any importance to worry about and deeper tribal support that makes them much less reliant on the military apparatus and secret police of other Arab dictators– it has the time and space to form into a Saudi Superstate.
Bahrain will be the Caliphate’s first test. If the Saudis can hold Bahrain against Iranian unrest and Western human rights pressure, then they will have proven to be the strong horse in the region. However if they lose Bahrain, then the GCC will be exposed as a hollow shell entirely dependent on American support for its survival. The Shiite populations are the GCC’s first challenge. If it can suppress them, then it will rule the Gulf.
None of this would have been possible twenty years ago in a region controlled by military strongmen, but the New Middle East of the last decade is a place increasingly dominated by Islamic powers. If Egypt and Syria both fall into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, then aside from Israel, the major military powers in the region will all be Sunni and Shiite Islamists, whether in Egypt, Turkey, Iran or Saudi Arabia.
The Middle East faces a choice between Cairo, Tehran and Riyadh, between the Muslim Brotherhood, the Ayatollahs and the Saudis, and while the choice is of grave importance to those in the region, it is really no choice at all. Either of the three will lead to Islamic tyranny, the repression of women and religious minorities and a war with the rest of the world.
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